CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Browns struggled in all facets of the game today, Oct. 16, as they fell 38-15 to the New England Patriots at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“We got beat, and they did a good job and we also just beat ourselves a few times too many,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said in his postgame press conference. “It’s frustrating and that’s kind of how we’re going to approach it. It’s disappointing. We got beat and we beat ourselves.”
In the first quarter, the game appeared to be going well for the Browns. After a costly Jacoby Brissett interception, Myles Garrett took matters into his own hands. He came off the edge after rookie Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe and punched the ball away, with John Johnson III falling on it to set the Browns up deep in New England territory. Garrett’s sack gave him 62.5 sacks in his career and pushed him into first in Browns history past Clay Matthews’s 62 sacks in brown and orange.
Unfortunately for the Browns, Garrett was the only bright spot for the day. The Browns’ offense appeared anemic at times, with Brissett completing less than half of his passes, turning the ball over three times, and posting an abysmal 54.5 quarterback rating. Even star running back Nick Chubb was pedestrian today, gaining only 56 yards on 12 carries.
The defense was even worse, as Bailey Zappe had his way with the Cleveland secondary in his second career start. Zappe shook off the strip sack in the early going to go on and play like a seasoned vet, going 24-of-34 through the air for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Tailback Rhamondre Stevenson was the best runner of the day, notching 76 yards and two touchdowns on 19 total carries.
The Browns showed signs of life in the fourth quarter following outstanding catches from Donovan Peoples-Jones down the sideline and Amari Cooper in the red zone, but the special teams unit flipped the momentum right back to New England. An onside kick by Cade York appeared to be recovered by a combination of Ronnie Harrison Jr. and AJ Green, but instant replay reversed the call to give New England the ball. Then, after another Garrett sack to force a three-and-out with just under five minutes to play, Chester Rogers fumbled the punt away to the Patriots. On the next play, New England rookie wideout Tyquan Thornton took a jet sweep into the end zone to put the game on ice.
How it Happened
- Jacoby Brissett opened the game with a costly mistake, underthrowing new tight end signing Pharaoh Brown on a play-action attempt which was intercepted by Kyle Dugger.
- The Browns’ defense stood firm on the goal line, forcing a 19-yard Nick Folk field goal after first and goal from the one-yard line.
- Cade York got back in the made field goal column, converting a 39-yard try to knot the game up, 3-3, with 3:00 left to play in the first.
- On the Patriots’ 18-yard line, the Browns elected to go for it on fourth down. Brissett was stood up on the sneak attempt and ended up a yard shy of the marker, giving the Patriots the ball back after the Garrett strip sack.
- After punt exchanges, the Patriots broke into the end zone for the first time of the day with a Rhamondre Stevenson 31-yard run to take a 10-3 lead with 3:23 to play in the half.
- York once again showed why the Browns drafted him, drilling a 48-yard attempt from the right hash to cut the Patriot lead to 10-6 with a few ticks before halftime.
- The first drive of the half was big for the Patriots, with Zappe working his way downfield with his tight ends. Jonnu Smith went vertical for a long 53-yard bomb followed by a quick hit to Hunter Henry.
- The rookie-to-rookie connection of Zappe to Tyquan Thornton found paydirt early in the half with a slant in the back of the end zone to give New England a 17-6 lead.
- Brissett tossed his second interception of the game to a chorus of boos after taking a hit in the pocket. He heaved a ball up to David Njoku, which was underthrown and picked off by Jalen Mills.
- Three plays after the Brissett pick, Zappe tossed his second score of the day on a 31-yard strike to a wide-open Hunter Henry to extend the Patriot lead to 24-6.
- York’s day continued to look up, as he trimmed the New England lead to 24-9 with a 51-yard field goal to prove that last week was an exception to his play, not the rule.
- With 6:17 left in the game, the Browns’ offense finally showed signs of life. Circus catches by Donovan Peoples-Jones and Amari Cooper move the Brown and Orange down the field and Cooper’s catch is in the end zone. A two-point try is no good, but the Browns cut the Patriots lead to 24-15
- Following the touchdown, Ronnie Harrison Jr. and AJ Green III jumped on the onside kick, but Green was out of bounds. That illegal touching gave New England the ball on the Cleveland 47.
- Garrett sets up a Patriots three-and-out with a key sack on Zappe, his second sack of the ballgame.
- Chester Rogers fumbles the New England punt and the Patriots jump on it to take over on the Cleveland 20-yard line with 4:41 left to play.
- Thornton takes a jet sweep to score his second touchdown of the day one play after Rogers’s fumble to extend the Patriot lead to 31-15.
- Brissett’s struggles continued as he was strip-sacked by Carl Davis to give New England a first and goal with 3:56 remaining.
- In front of an empty stadium, Stevenson put the final exclamation point on the Patriots’ day with a six-yard score to put New England ahead 38-15.
Cleveland will pack its bags and hit the road for a divisional matchup against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, on Oct. 23. Kickoff from Baltimore is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will air on CBS.
To stay up to date on all Cleveland Browns news, transactions, and takeaways, follow Dawgs Table on Twitter and Instagram (@dawgstable). Also, tune in every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET to the Dawgs Table YouTube channel for a roundtable podcast where you can interact with hosts Craig Fountain and Ryan Angelo and their weekly guests.